“bowl, dish, plate”
Language: Qawiaraq Iñupiaq
I have one of these [a curved carving knife] at home that belonged to my dad…I’ve seen my dad making bowls and berry buckets.
—Oscar Koutchak, 2001
This ceremonial bowl was used for serving food at festivals and feasts. The bottom is a solid piece of wood and the rim is a separate piece that was softened with hot water or steam and then bent into its finished oval shape. The decorative inlays were carved from a soft white stone. Each person owned a smaller eating bowl, which was often placed on his or her grave after death. Carvers used knives with curved metal blades to shape them.
Region: Norton Sound, Alaska
Object Category: Ceremony
Dimensions: Length 40cm
Accession Date: 1928
Museum: National Museum of the American Indian
Museum ID Number: 162229.000
Oscar Koutchak: I have one of these at home that belonged to my dad.This is what you call miłkaq [carver/curved knife].It’s used to make—there’s a bowl over here. I’ve seen my dad making bowls and berry buckets.
[From discussion with Frances Charles, Anna Etageak, Art Ivanoff (Native Village of Unalakleet), Oscar Koutchak, Theresa Nanouk andBranson Tungiyan (Kawerak, Inc.) at the NationalMuseum of Natural History and NationalMuseum of the American Indian, 5/07/2001-5/11/2001.Also participating: Aron Crowell, Bill Fitzhugh and Stephen Loring (NMNH) and Suzi Jones (AMHA).]
1. This bowl was only briefly referred to during discussion of curved knife 210562.000.
Wooden bowls and trays were used for serving food to family and guests.(1) They were made by men and sometimes acquired through trade.(2) Individuals ate from small dishes, while larger dishes like this were for presenting food at home or at festivals and feasts.(3) When a person died, her eating dish was often hung on one of the grave posts.(4)
Using adzes and curved knives, men carved some dishes from single pieces of driftwood. Others, like this one, have solid bottom pieces that fit onto bent-wood rims.(5) The rim was made by steaming a thin strip of wood, bending it into shape with overlapping ends, and securing the ends together with strips of root or wooden pegs.(6) Dishes were often painted with animals or spirit beings, and/or decorated around the rim with pieces of stone or walrus ivory.(7) This dish is inset with circular and eye-shaped ivory pieces.
1. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:119-22; Nelson 1899:287-88
2. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:122; Nelson 1899:70, 230, 232; Ray 1966:11
3. Dall 1870:143, 149-50; Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:120-22; Nelson 1899:359, 363-65, 379; Ray 1966:87-89
4. Dall 1870:19, 145-46; Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:117-18; Nelson 1899:311, 313
5. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:121-22, 168, 172; Nelson 1899:71, 85
6. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:121-22, 172; Nelson 1899:71
7. Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:120-23; Nelson 1899:70-71; Ray 1966:7-8